Updated: Aug 1
30 June 2023 – Three years ago at 2300 hours Hong Kong Time, China imposed a sweeping National Security Law (NSL) on Hong Kong, a prelude to extinguishing the famously free-wheeling city’s freedoms.
The National Security Law criminalises any form of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces. The language of the NSL is vague and many arrests continue to be arbitrary. Immediately after the passage of the NSL, universities fired staff engaged in pro-democracy activities, broke ties with student unions, and banned pro-democracy slogans and songs. Police arrested journalists and shut down media outlets. Pro-democracy newspaper owner Jimmy Lai has now been behind bars on questionable charges for 912 consecutive days as he awaits his NSL trial.
Following their January 2021 arrests, 47 pro-democracy Hong Kongers were charged for “subversion” under the NSL for participating in an unofficial democratic election. Hong Kong holds more than 1,500 political prisoners. Hong Kong is no longer an open, international city but a place of fear under Chief Executive John Lee.
Since the implementation of the NSL, the British government on multiple occasions has referred to the law as a breach of China’s commitments to Britain under the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The British and Canadian governments have created visa schemes allowing Hong Kongers to escape from the oppressive consequences of the NSL. The US government has placed sanctions on Hong Kong officials who are responsible for abuse under the NSL. Two weeks ago, the European Parliament called on Hong Kong to repeal the NSL and immediately release Jimmy Lai.
In a British Parliament debate this week marking the third anniversary of the National Security Law in Hong Kong, members of the British Parliament called for the British government to urge Hong Kong to immediately repeal the NSL, release British citizen Jimmy Lai, sanction Hong Kong officials who commit human rights violations under the NSL, close Confucius Institutes and warn British businesses of the risks they face by investing in Hong Kong.
Democratic governments around the world should continue to call China to account and demand that it live up to the promises and commitments it has made under international law. The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation will continue to fight for the release of the city’s political prisoners and ensure that officials in Hong Kong and Beijing are held accountable for their actions.
Click here to watch a video timeline of national security-related events since the imposition of the National Security Law on 30 June 2020.
Mark Clifford, President of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, said:
“Hong Kong has changed drastically under the National Security Law. The democratic world must not forget about the Chinese Communist Party’s ongoing violation of international law in Hong Kong as the press is silenced, human rights activists are jailed, and the rule of law is dismantled. We will continue our efforts to hold China accountable for its imposition of the National Security Law in Hong Kong as well as protect the rights of Hong Kongers at home and abroad.”